Loose Canons and Apocalypse Now

Unveiling the Ethics in the Fiduciary Ethic
Aug 16, 2013 11:45 AM ET

MurninghanPost blog

Second in a Series: Time to Talk About the Public Interest

The TakeAway: This essay posits that the idea of fiduciary duty, with its legal and economic constructs, rests upon on a foundation spanning centuries of insights and wisdom about human behavior and civic virtue. There’s a higher “law” that serves as a beacon for peace and prosperity affecting our economic and political lives. That’s the fiduciary ethic, which is bounded in notions of trusteeship, of stewardship, of being a custodian or guardian.

A fiduciary ethic affects not just the manner in which financial assets are managed. It also speaks to the very core of what it means to be a trustee or director or steward. Unveiling and reformulating the ethics underlying the fiduciary ethic can help resurrect the civic moral dimension to economic and political life.

This can happen through reframing and re-visioning what capitalism and economic activity are supposed to achieve, to generate meaning and value in our lives. In addition to social history, principles emanating from political philosophy, world religions, theology, and humanist philosophy can aid theory-building and point the way toward changes in professional practice.

The word “apocalypse” has been given a bum rap. It conjures up images of end times, of the world turned upside down, of frightening images from the Book of Revelation.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “apocalypse” commonly is associated with ancient Jewish and Christian texts from the second century B.C. to the second century A.D. that contain prophetic or symbolic visions. These images show the destruction of the world and the salvation of the righteous, the Rapture, and the “left behind”.

Through the centuries, the Book of Revelation and its apocalyptic motif became canonic, despite the fact that in those days there were all kinds of prophecies and visions throughout Asia Minor and the Holy Land. Some were buried and forgotten, but Revelations lived on.

Not many people know that Revelations might have been buried, too: it almost didn’t make the cut when the New Testament was assembled by a clerical committee three centuries after the death of Jesus.

Last year, in his New Yorker review of Elaine Pagels’ 2012 book, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of RevelationAdam Gopnik notes that the Book of Revelation was inserted in the New Testament by a church council convened in the three-sixties.[1]

Since then, Gopnik writes, its vision of cosmic war has remained a popular hit, with all the elements of a Michael Bay action movie.   (....please continue reading)